Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Regarding Gasquet, I never meant to imply that it is a shameful place. On the contrary, I can completely understand why certain kinds of people want to live in a rural area in a beautiful part of the world. However, being raised in a rural place can be a different story. As a kid, I was filled with wonder at the nature all around me, but I felt completely isolated from my peers. I did have some interesting friends that came and went over the years, but I have to say - every family or person I knew were all coming from some other place, often, "escaping, " from something, someone, some situation. People escaping other people and ending up in a loose-knit community in the redwoods. I digress: the coolest time I spent in Gasquet was in the late 1970s. My family moved there in December 1975, about a month after my dad died. My mom, I can remember, was sighing a lot and consulting with her business associates about buying a house somewhere in rural Del Norte county. We were living temporarily in Smith River in a rather funky trailer/house combination. My mom tended to fall in love with homes that were of older construction and had unique qualities. She ended up buying the old Gasquet School house, a giant, cavernous house divided in 2 large sections, formerly classrooms I assume. Long and rectangular with giant redwood beam construction, the house was drafty but solid. The entire main dining room / living room was large and lodge-like, with high ceilings and 7 or 8 large windows along one wall, a large fireplace - later a insert stove - on one end. The other half of the house was divided into 5 bedrooms of varying sizes, a laundry room and a bathroom. The laundry room dead-ended in a pantry-sized hallway. This was my room, only big enough for my bed and alien sci-fi books. I digress: When my family moved to Gasquet, we landed in a cool little town with a fair-sized population of kids of all ages. It didn't really stay that way in the 1980s. The 70s in Gasquet were ruled by factions of rowdy youth partiers from several different families. At the least, that is how I remember it as a young kid. I was surrounded by my 3 older brothers and 1 older sister. They knew everyone in town and everyone knew us Coles. My brother Mike, 3d from the oldest in my family, was well known in this part of the world. He was a natural leader of a certain kind of tribe, the kind of tribe that exists in the Mountain Dew commercial Gasquet of my fuzzy memories, a tribe of regular, American dudes living the wholesome, mischief-laden, dope smokin', possibly thievin, small-town existence. All the dudes that were Mike's friends - guys with names like Bruce, Brett, Bob, Dan, Mike and Rocky, girls with names I can no longer remember - were typically rowdy but nice, often hanging out at, "The Forks, " the popular river spot, doing their thing, loudly, jumping off cliffs and hyperventilating for a cheap buzz. Drug use - there was plenty, and plenty of gas and glue-huffing as well. Off-roading in Datsuns and VW bugs - check. Siphoning fuel from airplanes for a high-octane kick for your Nova? - check. Running through the woods at night, tripping balls on 'shrooms - check. Fun stuff to witness, and somewhat disconcerting, but that was what was going down. Of course, my sister and other bros knew all these folks too, but Mike seemed like the head of the pack. I can remember tooling around town with my brother, going up to visit friends that lived on Gasquet loop road while riding on the back of dirt bikes, getting in car crashes every now and then, playing my first video games and first hearing, "new wave," music, like Blondie, on local turntables, all the while my bro sneakin' off to go smoke weed with his friends, always leaving me with Rush records to listen to or Atari 2600 games to play with, always Asteroids. I wish I could let drop some of the more salacious gossip of the times, but I don't want to incriminate anyone - although I'm sure the statute of limitations is long over for petty crimes of the sort that I was witness to. Stolen beer, siphoned gas, joyrides, petty theft, vandalism. I wasn't party to any of it at the time - of course I was much too young - but I have to say, it colored my outlook on life, somehow imparted a thieves' perspective on my psyche. I'm thankful that I was never witness to any truly bad shit - no white drugs, prostitution or domestic violence - not like so many of my friends, but there was a wild, permissive vibe in the air during the era. Our parents were distracted with the free, freaky, swinging 70s. We got away with entirely too much, but some of course, paid the price anyway. Next time: why Steve Miller Band wrote the soundtrack to the summer of my youth, Edward J Colesier
Thursday, January 26, 2012
(image of Smith River courtesy of Google.com)
I never actually wanted to write about Gasquet, at least for the longest time I’ve avoided it. I still have some ties there, but not so much that I really care anymore about the truth getting out about the quaint/sketchy little village on the Smith River in Nor Cal. I have a mixture of pride and shame in regards to my longest-time hometown association with Gasquet and greater Del Norte County. Pride because the area is unique and beautiful, shame because of… well , I’m not really sure why. Del Norte County is like a little corner of Alaska that got dropped on the Northern California coast. It feels remote there, roughly equidistant between San Francisco and Portland, roughly equidistant between Eureka, California and Grant’s Pass, Oregon. The population is small and comes in one of several dominant categories – 1. poor, working class, mostly white. 2. Yurok and Talawa Indian tribes living on their respective reservations. 3. Cannibas cultivators. 4. Law enforcement professionals (and/or Forest Service professionals, Cal trans etc…) 5. Unemployed, formerly working poor, often Meth-addicted folks and of course, 6. Everyone Else. I spent most of my formative school years in Del Norte, off and on, from kindergarten through my Senior year in high school, and I was one of those who desperately wanted out, and when the time came I left at a high rate of speed. But, that isn’t to say that I don’t have fond memories of my rural upbringing. For starters, there is Gasquet itself. Initially a resort village located on a flat area of the Smith River Valley, the town was founded sometime around the turn of the 20th century by a man named Horace Gasquet. The heyday of the town was probably the 1950s, when several trailer parks and a motel catered to the middle-class vacationers of the day. The best feature in the old days was the Gasquet store and The Rusty Nail bar, which as far as I know was most happening from the 1950s through early 1980s. Here is a pic from a fellow named DBerry's flickr stream of the store in all it's 50's glory:
Next time around, I will set forth with more sordid tales of Gasquet in the late 1970's, when teenaged partiers ran amok and brought with them pop culture artifacts from the bigger cities that their parents moved from. It was a happening time, with cut-off shorts, pancake breakfasts at the Veterans Hall, Peter Frampton hairdos and Cheap Trick, the Cars and ELO blasting out of Camaro 8 track players at every turn.
TO BE CONTINUED
Monday, January 23, 2012
Macro Blawg: I’m at the end of my lunch. I am at a desk, in front of a plastic rectangle with many, many square buttons on it, in front of another glowing rectangle. A cup of tepid, brown fluid is settled in a ceramic vessal with the letters “E, d” emblazoned on the side. Many important inputs are entering my brain via my senses – but this blawg is an output, so let me translate now to you: the new album from Stew and the Negro Problem is on my player, coming into my ears and I will tell you that it hits the spot. When I think of reality, I think of the awful, banal things that force their way into my life everyday – working at a “job”, commuting around the town with all the other beings, dealing with Godawful Assholes (tm) and the rules they want to impose on everyone, financial pressures of being on the outside of “The Game.” Right at this moment, none of that matters. What matters – what seems “real”, is Stew and Heidi’s music, which somehow, almost always, hits that spot reserved for the most Real of the Real.